Knowing Your Network
Decision-makers and social planners hear repeated and often contradictory criticism of the current social response. Services, programs and interventions are deemed either too extensive or not extensive enough, not in the right areas or not for the right people.
As a facilitator of social change, and to respond to these criticisms thoughtfully, you need to know what resources and assets your community has available, and where service support gaps exist. Having a clear understanding of your community’s supply supports systems change efforts to facilitate, coordinate and align the community towards common goals, while staying accountable to stakeholders.
Start With the Big Picture
First, municipalities and service regions need to know what social resources are available in the community and what services and interventions they provide. Determining “who is who and what do they do?” involves compiling information that generally exists in multiple mediums and locations.
HelpSeeker’s live social response map has over 300,000 services mapped across Canada and is the first national platform of its kind and captures both high-level data categories such as housing or food security, and details critical to local planning such as hours of operation, eligibility and costs per service.
To examine duplication, gaps or other unknowns of social resources, HelpSeeker supports clients to begin analyzing their supply mapping data both in ready-made tools, like our Service Gaps & Duplications Dashboard, or unique analysis from our data science team.
How Well is Your Social Response (Really) Working?
To begin to understand if the supply of services is positioned to meet the needs of the community, we need to narrow our focus to specific needs of community members and what best practices tell us about meeting those needs. To do this, we use comparison points within your own community, other communities, against best practices of service continuums, and against the feedback and criticism you’ve received for calls for better services.
For example, across Canada there are fairly standard housing continuums used by municipalities, funders and planners. HelpSeeker’s supply mapping uses common language to determine what a community has or doesn’t have across a housing continuum.
To dig even deeper, we need to think from the perspective of people accessing services. Knowing what is available in the community is a start, but it’s not enough. How accessible are services to community members? Within access, we might look specifically at availability – which services are available when, for who, for how many people, or in what languages are services provided. Within a housing continuum, perhaps there are adequate home care units for seniors, but not enough affordable housing.
Finally, once we’ve gone deep enough into the supply mapping data, we can assess how the results align with community needs. We can develop personas that support narrowing the data further or run analysis on specific details of service offerings which are critical to target populations. This process can be repeated for multiple needs and social issues and is highly dependent on a good quality systems map.
Insights for Social Strategy
From the above activities you get a good understanding of your supply map, and can develop a roadmap to begin looking at the efficacy and quality of community services. Examining and discussing the results can be illuminating for decision-makers who haven’t had this level of visibility into their community supply before. This data helps shed light on how well your social response as a whole is equipped to respond to emerging pressures, and if there are any immediately noticeable duplications or gaps.
As your community progresses on social responses and systems planning, analysis of supply mapping at this level helps you make decisions around where to build partnerships, pursue further resources, maximize existing resources, and build a more holistic continuum of care.
How to Get Started
Karto by HelpSeeker supports analysis, understanding and visibility of your community’s current social supply in real time, allowing you to get insights on service supply, distribution, and accessibility for your community members at minimal cost.
This is an invaluable tool for knowing where duplications & gaps lie in your social response, allowing you to make better decisions and plan effectively for your community’s future. Learn more about the actionable information and insight Karto provides you here.